Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Wake of the Vikings: TugBoat Dances to Welcome us to Quebec

 

It is a joyful morning. The air is soft, the sky is blue, and Quebec shines like a jewel in the harbor.

The sun is gleaming off a smaller white boat – a tug?

 

The tug starts shooting off water. This is interesting! What is he doing? Is the tug able to use seawater to form the chute of water? Is it also a fireboat?

 

The boat starts toward our boat, and one chute of the water is grazing the bow! Oh no! Is he going to spray all the cruise ship guests? Is this a security risk?

 

No! He veers away, just in time to keep from giving us a soaking, but bouncing port to starboard, starboard to port, dancing for us, dancing with us. One of the crew members waves seeing me shooting this segment. AdventureMan joins me, he waves back.

 

What a delightful and lovely way to start the day. It just keeps getting better!

He is having so much fun. We are having so much fun! The water sparkles off his joyful waterspouts!

 

He almost disappears in a spray of water. He goes around the back to welcome the other side of the ship.

It doesn’t take much to thrill our hearts. This joyful welcome does the trick.

As we dock, the World Cafe is full of people and their cameras; we are docking in the heart of the old city, and views present themselves for the taking. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier day in Quebec; the temperatures will be in the high 70’s F.

 

 

The tug boat harbor:

 

 

“Oh look, the local Vikings are coming,” I said to AdventureMan, and looking right at them, he asked “where?”

“That’s them, the local Viking crew, coming to help get people onto their tours and hand out water,” I pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant REAL Vikings,” he grumbled.

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Hmmm. When I attended the Bayeux Tapestry lecture, the speaker said that the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is considered the end of the Viking Era, meaning exploration, pillage, plunder and settlement. But really, the Battle of Hastings was Norman (Norseman) against Northman, Viking fighting Viking, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . . the Viking Era goes on, hidden under a thin veneer of civilization.

Don’t you like that idea?

We have a tour late into the afternoon, then final goodbyes, dinner, and making sure our bags are out in the hall and ready to go by ten tonight. The good part about a cruise is unpacking and not having to pack and unpack again. The bad part is that a reckoning always comes, and we are stuffing our suitcases, and throwing out old underwear to make room for the few souvenirs we picked up along the way. The Viking Sky leaves Quebec City tonight for Montreal, and from our landing we head to the airport, en route back to Pensacola. I don’t believe I will be able to post again until we are there, and perhaps not right away, as you know what it is like, the deluge of things that must be done, when you get home . . .

So for now, au revoir from Quebec.

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September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Marketing, Pensacola, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Wonderful Welcome in Saguenay, Quebec

 

We awaken to a beautiful morning on the Saguenay river. As I am fixing my hair, there are dolphins – or porpoises (is there a difference?) playing just outside the open window, and whale spouts and tails from time to time. It is a glorious morning, and AdventureMan is feeling better, but not better enough to take the Zodiac ride in the park which we had scheduled.

It doesn’t matter. It is a glorious day, we have some fog as we pass along the river, but the day is beautiful. Blue skies and whales! AdventureMan snoozes after breakfast, building up energy, and I leave him alone so he can recuperate.

 

 

 

We have to go very slowly; Canadian Maritime law is humane, and protects the migrating whales.

 

 

Around noon, we dock in Saguenay:

This boat is not us, it is one of the French Soleal line. Only one boat can dock, so this time they have to use the tenders.

 

 

AdventureMan and I exit the boat to walk through Saguenay and find a bite of non-ship food to eat. Viking Ocean cruises has a lot of nice food, and most of it is lightly seasoned so as not to offend anyone. They do a great job of taking care of a lot of people, but sometimes there are slips. We ate mussels one night, and they were delicious – but served tepid! Almost cool!

We are blown away by the Saguenay welcome. We have been told these are all volunteers, they dress in old time costumes and greet the arriving passengers with welcomes, photos, flags, free little blueberry juices, free blueberry pie, a small musical group playing local music – oh, it is a total party on the dock! Many of them don’t speak English, but they understand my French and I feel terrific. They understand my French! I’ve lost so much because I so rarely get an opportunity to use it, but the fluency comes back and I feel exhilarated.

Here is the man handing out Saguenay flags to all arrivals. AdventureMan tells me that the green signifies forestry and wildlife, the yellow is for agriculture which is a mainstay of their economy and he can’t remember what the silver stands for; you would think it is white, but it is really silver and as it is the cross, he believes it has to do with faith.

These people are so much fun, and are having such a great time. So are we!

 

They get one of the passengers to try the saw – it’s harder than it looks!

This man was flipping his son all around, and they were both really having fun with this local greeting party.

Yes! Yes! a “bluet” is a blueberry! I have a new word in my French vocabulary!

They are making natural maple sugar candy here, on a bed of ice, and giving it out. I get to show our grandson this; we were reading that American children’s classic, “Little House on the Prairie” and the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder described perfectly how this is done.

You know what I love about this? This is pure generosity of spirit. There really isn’t that much going on in Saguenay that would make it a draw, but these good people with their slices of blueberry pie, their costumes, their music, and their warm welcome, have created something worth traveling to see. They have their heritage. They are proud of it, and they are happy to share it with visitors. It’s just all win-win.

I love the juxtaposition here, the First Nation representatives against the background of the Viking invaders 😉

 

We asked one of the guides if they could recommend a good restaurant and they recommended one I had seen on TripAdvisor, just a short walk down the bicycle path. And Big Bravo for AdventureMan, the person I asked didn’t speak English, and we were trying to find the bicycle path and AdventureMan remembered “piste” from when we lived in Tunisia, and as soon as he said it, the person’s face lit up and he pointed us in the right direction.

 

It’s a perfect day. I am in short sleeves; temperatures are in the 70’s F. and the local young folk are in short shorts, halter tops and summer dresses. It is probably a wonderful late summer day to them. We dine outside at La Grange aux Hiboux.


 

 

It reminds us of places we used to eat lunch when we would get up early early on cold mornings to go to the big flea market in Metz.

We took the long way back to the ship, and passed this church.

I have to tell you something funny. Or at least it strikes me funny; I guess there are times when I am still silly and seven years old in my heart. The bay that Saguenay is situated along is called the Bay of Ha! Ha! There is a hop-on hop-off bus for cruise passengers, called, the Ho Ho. The HoHo is right next to the Bay of Ha! Ha!

Well, I think it is funny.

What I love, too, about Viking is their willingness to accommodate religious observances. (Did I already say this?) Tonight they are having a special dinner for those celebrating Rosh Hoshhana. How cool is that?

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Heritage, Humor, Marketing, Restaurant, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“You’ll Never Get Another Credit Card, F@%&ing B!}@h”

As a friend and I were talking today, a call came in on my land line. Very very odd – the call is from me! I answered the call, and a robogirl told me that there was no problem with my credit card, but my company wanted to give me a better rate. Just press 9 to speak with a service person who could help me.

I pressed 9, and got JuJu, very clearly Indian, who started talking about how smart I was to want a better rate. I told him I didn’t want a better rate, I wanted him to take us off his list, that we are on the do not call list. He said he wasn’t a telemarketer, he was calling from our credit card company. “Which company is that?” I asked, because we have a variety, each of which we use for a specific purpose. “Oh, we represent blah blah, and blah blah blah, and blah de blah” he said airily, and I am laughing because we don’t have any of those cards.

“We don’t have any of those cards, please connect me to your supervisor, I want our names taken off your list. We have never given permission for these kinds of phone calls,” I stated.

He started cursing me a blue streak, ending with “I am putting a black mark on your credit report right now! I am blackening your credit! You will never have another credit card, (expletive expletive expletive!!”

At this point, I put him on speaker-phone. My friend listened with me in horror as he cursed and swore and threatened. When I said his special offer didn’t interest me, he started in all over again. By this point, I am laughing, it is so unthinkable, he can’t be from a real marketing service. Finally, he hung up on me, and my friend and I just looked at each other, wide-eyed.

I called one of our banks and told the customer service person what had happened, and he said it’s totally a scam. The guy wanted my credit card information. I’m seriously thinking of getting rid of our land line.

 

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civility, Crime, Cultural, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Marketing | | Leave a comment

Pantone Chooses TWO Colors-of-the-Year for 2016

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I love Rose Quartz (real rose quartz is lighter than this pink) and I love Serenity. Pantone says they are meant to be worn together. Ugh.

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, color, Marketing, Shopping | , , | 1 Comment

Pantone Colors for Spring 2015

See them in fashion, accessories and decorating by going to Pantone.

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December 4, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cultural, Marketing, Shopping | 2 Comments

Masala: Pantone Color of the Year 2015

Oh arrgh. To me, this is a great color for a purse, or any accent piece, but for clothing, it’s so brown, so deep, so heavy . . .

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December 4, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, color, Cultural, Marketing, Shopping | Leave a comment

“Ambulances Chase Him”

Most local made ads are purely awful, or, at best, amusing because they are so awful – one time. Painful after that. This ad cracks me up every time. Imagine, a personal injury lawyer who has a sense of humor about himself:

 

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Marketing | , , | 2 Comments

Six Foods Healthy Eaters Won’t Touch

I love this article from AOL Everyday Health News because they make some great suggestions – like if you really love salted nuts, mix them half and half with unsalted nuts to cut the amount of sodium you take in. We do this with breakfast cereal; we mix Bare Naked Nuts and Fruits with Quaker Old Fashioned Oats; it still has enough sweetness, and we add a little cinnamon and sunflower seeds to pump it up.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Most of us are familiar with the typical no-no foods like sugared soda or anything deep-fried, but have you ever wondered what the experts steer clear of? Everyday Health’s nutrition mavens dish on the foods they won’t eat, and share tips for making healthier swaps.

1. Hot dogs, bacon, and sausages. Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN, Everyday Health columnist and author of Read it Before You Eat It, said she would never eat these processed meats, and for good reason: A diet high in processed meats like bacon and sausage can increase your risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease, according to recent research.

Processed meats, like pepperoni, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and deli meats, are best left for special or rare occasions like a trip to the ballpark or a family event. If beef or pork hot dogs and sausages are staples in your diet, Taub-Dix suggests chicken dogs or sausages may be healthier bets. But beware the health halo of a food like chicken sausage, she said. Just because food items have some healthy qualities — like baked chips or 100-calorie snack packs — doesn’t mean they’re really good for you.

As with any processed food, watch out for sodium content. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are African American, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Love bacon but hate the health repercussions? Use seasonings and spices like paprika and chipotle to add that smoky flavor to your cooking, suggested Taub-Dix.

2. Sugary coffee creations. “Those fancy blended drinks at coffee shops can have upwards of 400 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar…yikes!” said Johannah Sakimura, MS, the writer behind the Everyday Health column, Nutrition Sleuth.

Unlike naturally-occurring sugars like those found in fruits (fructose), added sugars — syrups or sugars added to food items during preparation — can be harmful to your health. In fact, the added sugar Americans consume on a daily basis can more than double the risk of death from heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons or 100 calories a day of added sugar for women, and no more than nine teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

If you can’t live without your favorite sweet coffee drink, Sakimura recommends indulging less often. “If you want to enjoy one occasionally as a dessert, that’s totally fine…but they definitely shouldn’t be a daily or even weekly order,” she said.

3. Stick margarines. Both Sakimura and Taub-Dix said they avoid trans-fat foods, which can raise your heart disease risk by boosting levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein — LDL) and lowering levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein — HDL).

Sakimura avoids stick margarines because most are still made with partially hydrogenated oils, meaning they’re loaded with trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than one percent of your daily total calories. So, if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s just 20 calories. And since small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some animal products, like meat and dairy, you’re probably meeting the 20-calorie threshold without reaching for factory-produced trans fats like those found in some margarines.

“When I occasionally make a baked good that requires solid fat, such as certain cookie or cake recipes, I always use butter. Butter does contain a large amount of saturated fat, but trans fats are far worse for your health,” she said.

4. Processed pastries. Everyday Health’s nutrition expert Maureen Namkoong, MS, RD, said she never eats processed pastries like Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, Devil Dogs, HoHos, or Hostess Cupcakes.

“The shelf life makes me nervous, too many preservatives, too many chemicals, too little taste,” said Namkoong. She prefers “real” desserts instead of these sugary snacks.

While the jury is out on the long-term effects and risks of preservatives in shelf-stable foods, a good rule of thumb is to eat fewer packaged, processed foods and more whole, fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and lean meats and fish.

Pay attention to frequency and quantity when you indulge in an unhealthy food.

5. Canned frosting. This is another trans fat offender that Sakimura avoids. When she wants to enjoy a nicely-iced dessert, she makes the icing from scratch.

“Hopefully, the proposed FDA ban on artificial trans fat will be finalized soon and we won’t have to worry about trans fat-laden products any longer,” Sakimura added.

Always read the product label for trans fat info. Why? Because right now, the FDA allows companies to round trans fat down to zero grams if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving.

“You have to turn it over and take a look at the label for hydrogenated fat or partially hydrogenated fat – that means trans fat,” Taub-Dix noted. There are bound to be similar products that aren’t loaded with trans fats, so opt for those instead, she suggested.

6. Sugar-packed cereals. Namkoong said she never eats sugary cereals because they’re not filling enough and have too little fiber. “The way I see it, the calories and sugar budget are better spent on a yummy dessert that I’ll enjoy more,” Namkoong said.

Sugary cereals your go-to guilty snack? Lower your sugar intake with this tip: “If you really like sugary cereals, and you know that they aren’t good for you, then mix them in a bowl with a cereal that is very low in sugar,” Taub-Dix recommended, so at least you’re getting less sugar per serving.

How to Change Your Taste for ‘Bad’ Foods
A registered dietitian or nutritionist can create a diet geared to your specific needs, but if that’s not an option then tailor your taste on your own by diluting your favorite foods, said Taub-Dix.

How do you dilute your foods? Basically, as noted above with sugary cereals, mix half of the bad stuff with half of the good stuff.

“If you have high blood pressure, and you know salted nuts aren’t great for you, take a handful of salted nuts and mix in unsalted nuts, too,” recommended Taub-Dix.

By diluting unhealthy snacks, you’re tailoring your tastes and gradually getting used to food that’s healthier. Another tip from our experts: Pay attention to frequency and quantity when you indulge in an unhealthy food.

“It’s not just about the food. It’s about how often you’re having it and how much of it you’re having,” said Taub-Dix.

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marketing, Shopping | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Kings Lane: Excellent Customer Service

They didn’t even answer the phone. When I called Customer Service to tell them that of the 12 drinking glasses they had sent me, 11 arrived perfectly, one arrived in smithereens, smashed, crushed. I can’t imagine how 11 could be flawless and one could be so badly damaged.

They told me to leave a message, so I did. As I was holding the paperwork in my hand, I was able to give them my order number and what had happened. I told them I didn’t want to return the glasses I received – I totally love them – but would they send me a replacement for the one that arrived in smithereens?

They didn’t call me back. I barely noticed, I was having a busy day, only around six did I think of it and had second thoughts about dealing with them again.

Then early yesterday morning I found their e-mail, sent shortly after I had called, telling me they had no replacements, but they would credit my account for the entire amount and I could give them to charity or use them as I wished.

I was blown away. Who does that?

It’s not like I need more e-mail, but every e-mail they send me has something lovely. These are the glasses I bought:

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No, no, they are not glamorous, but they are perfect for everyday use. They are made of recycled glass, they have wide bottoms and they have little raised fleur-de-lis on them.

Why is this important? I have a cousin; when he was a boy he would talk enthusiastically and knock over his drinking glass. It got to be a family joke. But you can prevent these things. If you have children and want them to learn how to dine with adults, you choose items that will help them succeed – wide bottom glasses, for example, that are not easily tipped over, with details on the outside that will help little hands grasp the slippery outsides without slipping. It’s not that hard, you just have to give it a little thought.

It isn’t that hard to give children tools they need to grow strong and capable, and confident. You give them concepts, you give them knowledge, you give them practice. You also give them a sport, something that will teach them how their body moves and how to bring it under their own control, so that when they reach their teen-aged years, they will move with grace and have learned self-restraint. 🙂

One King’s Lane is also where I found the fabulous bathtub I showed you. I still yearn for this tub!

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And today, oh my sweet heaven, I found a pair of bookshelves I can barely restrain myself from ordering. They are beautiful, and unlike anything I would find in Pensacola, and oh! They hold books!

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March 15, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Family Issues, Generational, Home Improvements, Marketing, Shopping | Leave a comment

They Know What I Like!

I get all kinds of ads, and it is scary how much information they can put together to figure out what I might be interested in. Today I got an ad that headlined this bathtub:

 

 

 

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Is that not gorgeous? I don’t have need of a bathtub . . . but I thought about creating a need . . . only to learn that it is already sold out. But what gorgous lines! I am WOWed.Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 7.40.14 AM

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Marketing | 2 Comments